Monthly Archives: September 2010

Autumn Flavors

Autumn is my favorite time of the year and autumn flavors are among my favorite.  Butternut squash is in at the farm stand and this is the best time of year to purchase it and cook it up for the winter.  When choosing butternut squash look for squashes that are stocky rather than shapely.  The majority of the flesh is in the neck of the squash and the round base is mostly seeds…the bigger the bottom-the more seeds.  I stock up on squashes, roast them up, mash the flesh and freeze it for the rest of the winter.  Roasting concentrates the flavor rather than diluting it like boiling does.  The following recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash may seem like a lot of work but I like to roast once and enjoy squash for the rest of the winter.  Make sure you use a heavy sharp knife to split the squashes.  There is nothing wrong with roasting smaller amounts as needed.

Originally, the next recipe: Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew called for 1 cup of chopped onions and 1 cup of carrots.  I can’t use the carrots but left them in for anyone who can…it’s an easy way to get some veggies in.  As for the onions I have been substituting onion powder for onions in recipes.  I was told by the Dietitian that onions are skins and should be avoided.  From what I understand some people with GP eat onions and even berries but I have no intention of including either in my diet at the moment.  When I mentioned that I wanted to “step outside the box”  I didn’t mean be reckless with my new found abilities with solids (knock wood!).  Without the carrots and onions it’s more like a thick, comforting soup.  Feel free to bump the chicken up to one pound if desired.  That will bump up the protein in each serving.  I consider winter squash a starch. Add a serving of white rice or even a scoop of mashed potatoes with the stew if desired.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut butternut squash in half length wise and scrape out the seeds with a sharp spoon.  Cook as many squash as you have room/pans for.  Place each half cut side down in a rimmed sheet pan or baking pan with 1/4 inch of water.  Roast for approximately 35-45 minutes until a skewer can be inserted in the neck of the squash without resistance.  Let cool and when cool enough to handle scoop out the flesh and mash in a big bowl (puree in a food processor if necessary).  Freeze in individual containers.  Squash can be seasoned as savory with onion powder, garlic, thyme and even parmesan cheese or sweet with brown sugar, maple syrup or even a spoonful of orange juice concentrate from the freezer.

Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew

Adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe from the 1990s.  Makes 4 Servings

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 clove garlic crushed

3 cups peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes butternut squash

1 cup diced carrots (if using-smaller pieces cook faster)

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (ground to a powder if necessary)

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (bump up to 1lb if desired)

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

grated nutmeg, salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate

Preheat a medium dutch oven.  Add olive oil, garlic,  squash cubes and carrots (if using). Stir and cook 3 minutes.   Stir in broth, thyme, salt and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.  Vegetables should be nice and tender.  Meanwhile season chicken cubes with onion powder.

Remove 1 cup solids with a slotted spoon and puree with 1/2 cup liquid.  Return to the pan and bring to a boil.  Add chicken cubes and return to a simmer until cooked through (approximately 4-5 minutes).  Add orange juice concentrate and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Per 1 cup serving (as written with onions and carrots): 186 calories, 5 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 41 mg cholesterol, 254 grams sodium, 20 grams total carbohydrate, 5 grams dietary fiber, 20 grams protein, 91 mg calcium

Juicing Update….

When I posted about juicing the first time I mentioned that I would revisit the topic as I tried and learned more.  The summer is officially over and so are the affordable and plentiful summer berries I was using.  The good news is that all the greens are fantastic this time of year.  I’ve always been a fan of going to the farm stand and eating with the seasons but each autumn (with GP or not) my fruit supply sort of dries up.  I’m allergic to apples but can eat pears and citrus isn’t truly in season until the holidays.

I’ve been using fresh pineapple…the core is an especially good source of bromelain which is good for digestion plus it brightens the flavor of the beet root and greens (parsley, dandelion, spinach, kale and beet greens).  I thought that fresh ginger might be a nice addition so I bought some and added a very small piece to the juicer.  At first the warm spiciness was pleasant but then as it became apparent how long things tend to sit in my stomach it wasn’t…in fact it became downright unpleasant.  So I have to report that the ginger was a failed experiment.

But not all is lost.  Ginger tends to go green, shriveled and furry in the refrigerator.  It’s always nice to have it in the house to make ginger tea, add to chicken broth or use in a recipe.  Just peel it; cut it into pieces about the size of your thumb and put it into a ziplock bag and into the freezer.  It will be ready to make tea, soup or any other recipe and you won’t have to worry about it being shriveled and green when you go to use it.  That’s where my hand of ginger is because it’s not going into the juicer again!

I’m working on adapting a recipe for chicken and squash stew…gluten and dairy free.  So stay tuned!

Out with the Fried! In with the Baked!

I love fried chicken.  My favorite restaurant meal as a child was real fried chicken and blueberry pie…YUM!  Needless to say fried anything isn’t even remotely GP friendly.  I had some buttermilk left over from the Raspberry Filled Chocolate Layer Cake (see post from 9/16/10).  Because it’s impossible to buy just a small carton I used some in mashed potatoes then decided to use up some more with boneless skinless chicken breasts.  The acid in buttermilk breaks down and tenderizes the chicken so it’s tender and moist enough to cut with a fork…which in turn makes it easier to chew thoroughly.  Be careful with the crumbs as a little bit go a long way and they can get a little glumpy if the coating is too thick.  As a variation you can use some reserved chicken tenders or cut the chicken breast into fingers before marinating and coating.  Keep an eye on them as the cooking time may be a little shorter.  I served mashed sweet potatoes with the chicken.

Buttermilk “Fried” Chicken

Serves 2 but can be easily doubled

2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup low fat buttermilk

Salt-free seasoning (I like Mural of Flavor available @ http://www.penzeys.com)

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (I’ve used the Ritz-type from Whole Foods before.)

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut chicken breasts into 2 by placing a palm on top of each and slicing horizontally.  Marinate cutlets in buttermilk and seasoning   (use as much or as little seasoning as you can tolerate) for at least 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, season bread crumbs with a little salt (cracker crumbs may not need salt).  Dredge each piece of chicken in crumbs and coat very lightly.  (I have just sprinkled a little on top in the past.)  Place on a sprayed sheet pan and spray each cutlet lightly.  Bake 10-12 minute or until cutlet no longer yields when pressed with a finger.

Sneaking in Those Greens

Frozen, chopped organic spinach is a staple in my freezer.  I purchase it 4 boxes at a time and have a defrosted, drained box in my fridge at all times.  Spinach is one of the veggies on the recommended list provided by the Dietitian.  Recently, at Whole Foods, I grabbed one of the booklets out on the tables in the dining area.  It suggested a clever way to get more greens by adding baby spinach or defrosted frozen chopped spinach to your morning smoothie.  The author promised that you wouldn’t even notice the spinach.  I thought about it for a minute and decided to give it a try with my morning Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie.

I get the majority of my greens from juicing but for the days I know I’ll be out and about and not able to juice or know I’m going to be out for a GP friendly dinner of fish and baked potato, chicken and sweet potato or pancakes and scrambled eggs…all conspicuously devoid of greens it would be a great way to fill in the gap.  I’m happy to report that I put 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped, defrosted, drained spinach in my smoothie this morning and all I noticed was a few green flecks.  Everyone is different so add whatever amount you feel comfortable with.  Also, everyone’s smoothie recipes are different so lighter flavors might not cover up the spinach taste as well as chocolate flavor.

Other easy ways to sneak in those greens:

Mashed Potatoes Florentine

Makes 4 generous servings

1 bag Ore Ida Steam & Mash Russets*

1 cup skim milk, low fat buttermilk, fat free half & half, chicken broth or a combination

frozen chopped spinach-defrosted and drained (snipped with scissors or pureed if necessary)-whatever amount is desired

fat free sprinkle cheese or grated parmesan

salt and pepper to taste

*OreIda Steam & Mash is a convenience item with a price to match (up to $3.99 a bag).  They’re good for hot or busy days when you don’t want to peel, chop and boil.

Make potatoes according to instructions.  My microwave is underpowered and it takes 20 minutes to cook potatoes thoroughly.  Heat spinach in microwave.  Mash potatoes with milk and stir in spinach, cheese and salt and pepper.

“Creamy” Chicken & Spinach Velvet Soup

I’m almost ashamed to call this a recipe but it helped get me throw the puree and liquid days.  The “velvet” comes from pureeing the pasta in the soup. It is warm, smooth and the prettiest shade of green.

1 19 oz can Homestyle Chicken Noodle Vegetable Soup*(not condensed)

frozen chopped spinach-defrosted and drained

leftover roasted chicken breast (for a little protein boost-optional)

*I use a local store brand because it doesn’t contain soy protein isolate.  I’m also, allergic to carrots and celery so I pick them out.  Leave the carrots in if you are able to eat them.

Thoroughly puree soup, spinach and extra chicken (if using) in a blender.  Transfer to a saucepan, heat and eat.

Can’t Forget Where I’ve Come From…

I recently became a member of an International Gastroparesis Yahoo group and reading people’s posts has reminded me of where I’ve come from.  I had Botox injections in May and fingers crossed they are still working and I’m able to enjoy certain solids.  Not long ago I was like some of my fellow posters living on liquids and purees.  As I’ve mentioned before chicken has been the “only meat so far”.  I thought I’d share a recipe for moist roast chicken breast.  According to an article on http://www.drgourmet.com the fat content is negligible when roasting chicken with the skin and without.  Bone in, skin on chicken just plain tastes better and is moister.  No matter how appealing the chicken skin looks it is NOT GP friendly so discard it or in my case it will just disappear after Hubby has been in the kitchen. Whether you puree it or just buzz it up in the mini prep nobody wants to eat saw dust chicken.  This recipe is inspired by an episode of Barefoot Contessa.  Once roasted, the chicken is suitable for pureeing, chopping or using in any recipe.

Moist Roast Chicken Breast

Bone in/skin on chicken breasts

Seasoning of your choice…or none if it is intolerable

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash and dry chicken.  Place breasts on a rimmed sheet pan leaving space between each piece.  Season, if desired.  Roast chicken for approximately 30-40 minutes depending on size.  An instant read thermometer should read 170 degrees.

Making the Most of Baby Food

I think it’s important to acknowledge a GP fact: baby food is a smart option for getting in some fruits and veggies especially on days where purees are necessary.  According to the information I received during my visit with a Registered Dietitian (something every GP patient should consider) all baby food fruits and veggies are allowed.  Do be careful as some 3.5 ounce jars contain as much as 3 grams of fiber.  Personally, I use them as a sneaky way to get fiber into my diet.  Adding baby food peaches or pears to my daily Activia vanilla yogurt provides a serving of fruit and thins down the yogurt and makes it more liquid-like.  My favorite product is an organic pear and raspberry baby food made by Earth’s Best.  Gerber second foods also makes an organic pear and wild blueberry.  Just as I plan to revisit juicing from time to time I plan on revisiting “Making the Most of Baby Food”.    Let’s face it, baby food veggies are not exactly delicious but with a little doctoring they can provide an easy way to get some veggies in.  I had a few packages of sweet potatoes in the pantry about to approach their use by date.  They inspired this recipe for a smooth as silk bisque perfect for the crisp autumn days ahead and the best part is…no pureeing necessary!

Baby Food Sweet Potato Bisque

Makes 2 Cups

3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock

4 3.5 ounce containers baby food sweet potato (I used Gerber 2nd foods)

1 clove garlic- crushed

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger pressed through a small sieve

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (ground to a powder if necessary)

1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

pinch cinnamon

pinch cloves

salt and pepper to taste (remember:baby food has no salt and you’ve used low sodium chicken stock)

fat free half and half (optional)

Bring chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients.  Simmer until flavorful (approximately 15 minutes).  Remove garlic clove before serving.  Enrich with a splash of fat free half and half if desired.

Lobster & Strawberry Shortcake

Sunday was a good day.  We are fortunate to live in New England where lobster is inexpensive ($4.99 per pound for chicks) and widely available.  Big lobsters are far more impressive to look at but for a sweet, tender treat chicks (1-1 1/4 pounds) are the choice of most chefs.  A chick lobster yields approximately 3 1/2 ounces of meat…that’s about 20 grams of protein!  The local fish shop will also steam them to order as long as you call ahead.  No muss! No fuss!  I’m a lobster purist so I have no recipe to share today.  We ate our lobster with the utensils God gave us.  I served them with mashed potatoes mixed with equal parts skim milk and fat free half and half then dusted with a pinch of truffle salt to make them a little extra special…they were sharing the stage with lobster after all.    As for GP friendly I would rank lobster just a little more difficult than chicken breast or white fish.  Chew thoroughly!

The shells are in the freezer with plans of being transformed into a low fat GP friendly lobster bisque at Thanksgiving.  Stay tuned!

Such a special meal deserved a special ending so after cleaning up I persuaded Hubby to go out for a store-bought angel food cake and a GP friendly strawberry shortcake was born.

Easy Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 1 serving but can be multiplied as many times as desired

1 slice angel food cake

1 scoop strawberry sorbet (softened)

Fat free Reddi wip

Preheat broiler.  Spray a sheet pan or piece of foil.  Toast angel food cake on both sides.  Serve with a scoop of softened strawberry sorbet and garnish with Reddi whip